Ehi! Mateus Rosé!
Just in case you were feeling insecure about your wine preferences in the face of overwhelming wine snobbery, and the now-ubiquitous $13 glass of restaurant Malbec, here’s a little evidence that even the Italians, who for all practical purposes invented wine, occasionally take a walk in the gutter.
I snapped this photo in a Rome grocery store back in March, and no, I didn’t buy any Mateus Rosé. I was in the market for a little Prosecco to accompany, well nothing really. Mr. Slattern and I were just in the mood for a glass or three of bubbly, but were too tired to go out to the local wine bar. We found exactly what we were looking for below the boxed wine and Mateus.
Interesting that this stuff is kept on the top shelf. Presumably it gives the reprobates who buy it a yoga-like stretch as they reach up. Now that’s a workout I can get behind!
What’s the takeaway? Drink what you like, folks. Screw top or box be damned. Va bene.
Buon giorno, Signore! Aperol spritz per favore.
Put away the whiskey, cellar the heavy reds and prepare to lighten up the portable bar. Spring is here, and I have it on good authority that summer is bound to be close behind. As such, I’ve been thinking about warm weather cocktails of late. Well actually I’ve been thinking about them since I hoisted my first Singapore Sling in a dark bar in Shanghai all those years ago, but that’s a story for another day.
As I may have mentioned, I recently returned from a life enhancing two weeks on the Continent, specifically the usual highlights tour of Italy: Venice, Florence and Rome. Lest you think it was all Barolo to go, let me tell you that Mr. Slattern and I discovered some new and exciting ways to refresh the palate and calm the nerves at the end of a long day of sightseeing, culture-sucking and trying to make ourselves understood in pidgin Italian mixed with a random assortment of French and high school Spanish. For example:
Mi scusi Signore, mais est-ce que lei sa dove el mercado qui vend el vino, por favor?
Yes, we raised a few eyebrows, but as I have said, the Italians are uniformly among the loveliest, most welcoming people on the planet, and somehow or other we usually got where we needed to go. One thing we got very good at doing, however, was placing our order for a couple of Aperol spritzes at day’s end, and if I’m being honest, at lunchtime, too.
Not familiar with Aperol? Well neither were we, but I went right out and found a source the day we got back, and it’s been all orange slices and prosecco nirvana ever since. Just so you know, Aperol is a bitter orange aperitif, along the lines of Campari, but milder. In the classic Aperol spritz (pronounced shpritz), three parts of prosecco (sweet rather than dry is really best) is poured over ice and topped with one to two parts Aperol (depending on how bitter you like it) and a splash of seltzer water or club soda, whichever you have on hand. This last ingredient is not, strictly speaking necessary, but it does lend a certain bubbly lightness to the drink. I like to garnish with a slice of blood orange for the drama, but if all you’ve got is tangellos or navels in the fridge, they’ll do just fine. If you have nothing but an old bottle of maraschino cherries, that works, too.
The flavor is a delightful mix of sweet and sharp, and is perfect for a warm weather gathering when accompanied by little nibbly things of the sort Martha would probably have her slaves whip up in an afternoon. Because I enjoy a spritz or three before the party starts, I just put out a tray of olives, baguettes and cheeses (Ozzie) and let the spritz work it’s Venetian magic on even the stuffiest of gatherings.
The Kitchen is Closed
The Slattern is out. To lunch.
Like my childhood idol Lucy Van Pelt, I have built a spectacularly un-lucrative business around giving out practical, yet almost entirely useless, advice on a variety of topics. In my case, much of what I’ve written this past year has had a culinary rather than psychiatric focus, though I reckon the frequent side trips through the cesspit of my psyche could also serve as a cautionary tale for the observant reader or licensed mental health professional. In any case, a stroll through the archives will show you how to make a pie, roast a chicken, whip up a tasty vinaigrette, bake a killer brownie and shake an authentic Sazerac. These are just the highlights, of course, but I think I can say that I have assembled a fair, if bare bones, primer on how to provide reasonably high quality sustenance for both family and friends without losing your mind, which was, after all, the goal I set during the initial planning meeting for Kitchen Slattern, aka one extremely drunken dinner party in the summer of 2011 during which the capable and persuasive Jen bought the name on my behalf and the enthusiastic and persuasive Robin egged us both on. Good times.
So as I say, over the past year I think I’ve made a reasonable contribution to gastronomy, much as Roseanne Barr did for unique musical performances a couple of decades past. As previously noted, a cautionary tale, but a memorable one nonetheless. And though I like writing about food in many ways, I find I may have “shot my wad,” if you’ll pardon the vulgarity, as far as cooking goes. I just don’t have that much more to offer on the subject. In addition, the little Slattern is off at college, Mr. Slattern long ago disavowed mammal consumption and lately is off sugar, salt and cheese, and I have placed my diet and health, for better or hellaciously worse, in the hands of Dr. Feelbad in an effort to lose the “sampling weight” I accumulated while overseeing quality control for such delightful treats as chocolate crinkles, lemon ginger pie and easy clafouti. I miss them all, I won’t lie.
Bottom line here: If I can’t sample, I can’t offer recipes. And though I could set this up as an improve-your-life-through-healthy-eating concern, who would want to read that? More importantly, how would I ever stop drinking if I had to write it? As such, I’m closing the kitchen and making it official. Going forward, I may offer up the odd culinary tidbit, and might even recycle some of the older chestnuts for the holidays, but in general, I’m going to confine my comments to the vast, weird territory that lies well beyond the limits of my cluttery, now under-provisioned, pantry.
Stay with me folks. It could get interesting.
Lobster Mac and Cheese: The end of civilization as we know it? I think so.
Posted by WSW
I’m not necessarily opposed to gilding the lily. In truth I enjoy a gold covered stamen as much as the next slattern. Neither am I in any way against indulging in a little wretched excess from time to time. A third round of Singapore Slings before dinner? Serve ’em up! Deep fat fried cheesecake? I’m game if y’all are, Paula. Pepperoni AND sausage on that double cheese pie? Why the hell not? As long as I’ve got a full six pack in the fridge it’s all good.
Courtesy the Food Network. Ewww.
No, I’m no stranger to overindulgence, even gluttony, but even so one has to draw the line somewhere, and for me it’s the addition of lobster to macaroni and cheese or mac and cheese to lobster, depending on your point of view. It’s just too much of a good thing, and though I tend to regard moderation as the province of Gwyneth Paltrow, sissies, milquetoasts and Proust scholars, in this I’m with the mung beaners. Lobster simply has no place in the all-American favorite.
Here’s why: With macaroni and cheese you always run the risk of leaving the table with a stodge ball lodged uncomfortably amidships. Because the dish is delicious in the extreme, more often than not the temptation is to overindulge. It doesn’t matter how much steamed asparagus, undressed green salad or ratatouille comes with it, you will almost certainly waddle away from the table, then collapse on the nearest horizontal surface only to awake two hours later, sweaty, parched and numb from the waist down because the waistband of your pants has cut off all circulation to the lower extremities. The same holds true for meals involving the noble crustacean. So mind bogglingly delicious is the flesh of the bottom feeder, especially when dipped in melted butter, it is only the labor involved in extracting it and the enormous expense of ordering up a second one that keep the delirious diner from taxing the digestive system beyond its limits. When the two are combined, no good can come of it.
“Here’s mine. Your LobMacChee is out back in the trough.”
That LobMacChee is much of a muchness is not sufficient for condemnation, of course. Many things are excessive and still manage to stay on my menu — hot fudge brownie sundaes, double bacon bleu cheeseburgers, champagne cocktails and PopTarts for breakfast, to name but a few. No, the reason I object to this new taste sensation is that the combination diminishes the components. The whole is actually less than the sum of its parts. The cheese overpowers the lobster, the lobster distracts from the mac and cheese, and neither shines. And that, quite simply, is why I view the dish as a crime against the palate.
Lobster mac and cheese occasionally turns up among restaurant offerings in the metropolis; however, in the eateries of Downeast Maine it is now apparently de rigeur, as common as muffin tops, missing teeth and limp cole slaw. In fact, it appeared on every menu I perused on my recent trip north to open up the Slattern family summer palace on scenic Chum Bucket Lane. I can only assume the plague is spreading, so consider yourselves warned.
Still not convinced? Well, different streaks, as the saying goes. If you must, here’s a recipe for lobster macaroni and cheese from none other than Her Bang-cellency, the one and only Ina Garten. What else makes sense?
Posted in Commentary, Dinner
Tags: bottom feeder, Cook, Food, gilding the lilly, Ina Garten, Kitchen Slattern, Lobster, lower extremities, mac and cheese, macaroni & cheese, restaurants, singapore slings, Slattern, slatternly